Gum Disease Causes

What causes gum disease?

What causes gum disease?

The damaging effects of gum disease have been documented in numerous studies. This chronic inflammatory condition can begin simply enough, with red, swollen gums and perhaps some bleeding when brushing and/or flossing. This condition is called gingivitis. If not treated, it can eventually morph into periodontitis, the most severe form of gum disease.

You probably know that regular brushing and flossing, as well as six-month dental checkups and professional dental cleanings, constitute the first line of defense against gum disease. But do you know what causes gum disease? New Holland PA dentists Dr. Laura Harkin and Dr. John Sheaffer shed light on conditions that contribute to gum disease.

The Primary Cause of Gum Disease

Gum disease (also called periodontal disease) is largely caused by plaque, a thin film that constantly forms on our teeth. If not brushed and flossed away in a timely manner, plaque produces acids that irritate gum tissue. Plaque buildup can ultimately destroy the bonds that hold teeth in place, causing tooth, gum, and bone loss.

Gum Disease Contributors

Some lesser-known conditions and factors that contribute to gum disease include:

  • Smoking: In addition to damaging your lungs, smoking impedes healing, which makes it harder for gum tissue to repair itself when assaulted by the bacteria that cause gum disease.
  • Hormones: The hormone changes that occur during a woman’s monthly cycle and during pregnancy, puberty, and menopause can make gum tissue more sensitive to the damaging effects of gum disease.
  • Illness & Medical Conditions: Certain illnesses and conditions that impact whole-body health, such as diabetes, HIV, and cancer, lower the body’s ability to fight infections, including gum disease.
  • Medications: Ask your doctor if the medication you’re taking can reduce saliva flow or cause excess gum tissue growth, as these conditions can contribute to the development of gum disease.

Learn More

To learn more about gum disease causes or to schedule a checkup and cleaning, call Laura Sheaffer Harkin, DMD in New Holland PA.